Gothic Council: I See A Symphony And I Want To Paint it Black

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

VNV Nation is coming, and even though we'll have to endure endless bitching about how VNV Nation isn't goth every single goth we know will be there. Ronan Harris and Mark Jackson put on fantastic shows, release brilliant albums, and just all-around enlighten and amaze audiences wherever they go.

Knowing our love of their beeps and boops, a newly healed Chris Gray called us into his office and threatened our mom if we didn't interview them. [Something like that - ed.] You'll see that in print a little later, but in the course of our research we found that VNV will be doing a special gig in Germany later this year called Gothic meets Klassik, where they will be backed by a full symphony. That is definitely going to be something to see.

It got us wondering: Which other goth acts could use the symphony treatment?

By licking a picture of Melora Creager, we summoned the Gothic Council to ask. Joining us this week is Alethea Carr, organizer of the Age of Decay festival; blogger at Night's Plutonian Shore, Sarah Fanning; DJs Martin Oldgoth and Regen Robinson; fashion designer Batty; Toby Rider of Ending the Vicious Cycle; living historian Morrighanne Burns; artist Darla Teagarden, and author of the Encyclopedia Gothica, Liisa Ladouceur.

Alethea Carr: Sisters of Mercy already did it, and no one beats the Sisters for overblown, fantastically pretentious hokeyness. I don't know why anyone else would even bother.

Sarah Fanning: Dead Can Dance! And perhaps the Cure. I played the violin for years (I was even in a competitive orchestra), so I love the idea of including symphonic backup to bands. But the band's music has to lend itself to including an orchestra. VNV, Dead Can Dance, The Cure, Delerium... they all already have layers of sound that work in that type of arrangement.

Martin Oldgoth: Siouxsie also did it. I can't take this one seriously I'm afraid, you uttered the one phrase that makes me think of nothing but insults. The two words that make me more angry than anything I can think of. Not only that you used them in the same sentence as the word 'gothic'... VNV Nation. Have you no shame?

Regen Robinson: I agree I don't really put VNV Nation in the "gothic" category. Although I do think with this particular electronic group a full orchestra will probably work really well!

Gothtopia: See what we mean?

Batty: "Last Beat of my Heart" by Siouxsie and the Banshees already was a gorgeous orchestra-backed sound. It's my favorite example. J-rock bands from Japan also do that all the time. I love it. I'd love to see some of the songs by Toby's band Ending the Vicious Cycle churn out some classically backed stuff, since he plays the violin really well. I think it would be awesome!

Toby Rider: Eventually I'll write an EVC song that calls out for violin, so I'll pick my little "devil's box" and lay down some tracks. I just try to let each song tell me what it wants in the way of instrumentation. That seems to work for me.

Whenever someone decides before they've written a song that "this will be a neo-classical masterpiece!" they often end up with something contrived and vulgar... Like an Yngwie Malmsteen album.

Alethea Carr: At least we aren't proposing purely orchestral versions of songs. That is a dangerous cousin to muzak, and I am still getting over the trauma of hearing a muzak version of "Lovesong" in the supermarket a few years ago. Also, VNV Nation can do whatever they please, as it has no effect on goth music. Since it isn't goth music.

Morrighanne Burns: As another classically trained musician, no. I do like a few of the Apocalyptica covers of songs with a classical take but it's not my cup of tea. If I want to listen to a full orchestra I'd rather listen to music that has been written for that purpose. I think it is a bit of a wank for the band/artist so they can feel accomplished as composers.

Alethea Carr: I am a classically-trained pianist (shh, don't tell), and I'd really rather have some Bach, Mozart, or Mendelssohn than souped-up versions of goth songs. Goth satisfies a completely different musical need for me.

Darla Teagarden: For the most part, I don't like the idea of re-working. It's akin to remaking a great movie. It waters down what I liked about the post-punk genre in the first place. It's something that reminds me of Sting with his pretentious, precious "mature" version of his pop hits. Definitely prefer electronics and guitar.

Batty: I am more for incorporating classical instruments into original new songs than reworking old ones bands have already done. Probably should have been more clear.

Liisa Ladouceur: Seems to me that "pop" musicians often perform with symphonies for credibility, since classical performers are still considered superior in many respects. I suppose they also do it for fun, for who wouldn't want the experience of such big sound, big space, if you could.

But apart from the already suggested Cure - which I think I would pay to see play with an orchestra - I have no desire for my favorite goth bands to do so. Because there goes the punk rock of it, the unpredictability of it, and we end up with more bands that sound like Nightwish.

I'll happily grab The Sisters' "This Corrosion" or some Dead Can Dance when I'm ever in the mood for something epic of that nature. Or some actual classical, which is way more gothic than anything VNV Nation has produced, I think.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.